South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Thanksgiving: The loneliness holiday

Use Thanksgiving to reflect on what life has given you

Apfelstrudel – German apple strudel – a favorite dessert of my maternal grandmother.

It was Thanksgiving 1946. Gathered around the table were my parents, my brother and me along with my maternal grandparents, my mother’s bachelor brother, her younger sister, her husband and daughter. It was Thanksgiving after World War II and we had much to be thankful for. My father had served in the Merchant Marines, one uncle in the Army in Italy and my bachelor uncle in the Navy in the Pacific.

At that time I did not realize that this would be the last Thanksgiving with the extended family. The following year, and for several years thereafter, we would be having Thanksgiving in a coal mining camp in Alaska on the northeast edge of Denali National Park, 115 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Life was challenging in the mining camp. Our first house was a log cabin. It was hard to heat with the coal furnace and rooms would be shut off in winter. The bathroom had no tub or shower and baths would be taken in a huge wash tub by the kitchen stove.

There were no shopping malls or movie theaters, Mother got the groceries from the company store. Once a week a movie would be shown in the miners’ recreational center. My brother and I were educated in a one-room schoolhouse, where there were eight to 12 students each year in the school. To receive territorial funding a school was required to have at least eight students.

The camp had no police or fire departments. There were no doctors or hospitals. My mother gave birth to her third son at home attended to by other women. There were no churches or synagogues. Periodically an itinerant minister would come to the camp and provide a service.

Thanksgiving in the eight years spent in Alaska, in years later when in the military, and college or law school, were spent without family or extended family. These were lonely times and I had to learn to live with the loneliness.

Loneliness is a feeling and all feelings give us important information. Writing about your feelings can be cathartic. Concentrate and focus on things of value in your life and what gives you joy and pleasure. You cannot focus on what you have and what you are lacking at the same time. Embrace the change in your life. We are meant to grow and change throughout our lives.

I hope each reader has the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones. But, if not, I trust that you can overcome the feeling of loneliness. Thanksgiving can be the most lonely holiday.

Concentrate not on loneliness but on the joys that life has given you.

I wish that this Thanksgiving each reader found something to be thankful for. That there were periods of joy and happiness. As a cancer survivor I have much to be thankful for.

Each Thanksgiving is one more I have to spend with family.